High-Intensity Interval Training For Women

High-intensity interval training sees an increased popularity these days. This type of training is commonly called HIIT workouts. They involve repeated bouts of high-intensity effort which is followed by various recovery times.

The periods of intense work can range from 5 seconds to 8 minutes long and they are done at 80% to 95% of an individual’s maximum number of times their heart will beat in a minute without overexerting themselves. The recovery periods are usually performed at 40% to 50% of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate, and they last equally as long as the workout periods. The workout continues with the alternating work and relief periods which can take from 20 to 60 minutes.


The Benefits of HIIT

HIIT training wouldn’t be recommended if it didn’t have some amazing benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Improves blood pressure
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Gets you in the shape, improving your aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • Improves insulin sensitivity (making your exercising muscles to use glucose more readily for fuel to make energy)
  • Improves cholesterol profiles
  • Reduces abdominal fat and body weight while you maintain muscle mass


How and Why HIIT Training Became so Popular?

HIIT training can be used by many individuals with special conditions including obesity and diabetes, and can be modified for any fitness levels. HIIT workouts can be used for all types of exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, aqua training, elliptical cross-training, as well as group exercise classes. HIIT type of activities have similar fitness benefits that continuous endurance workouts provide but in shorter periods of time. The reason for this is that HIIT workouts tend to burn more calories than normal workouts, most specifically after the workout.

“EPOC” is the name for the post-exercise period, and it stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This session takes about 2 hours after an exercise round, and its purpose is to restore the body to the pre-exercise levels, and thus using more energy. HIIT workouts have a vigorous contractile nature; this means that EPOC will tend to be modestly greater, adding a percentage of 6 to 15% more calories to the overall workout energy expenditure.
Woman holding a kettlebell

How to Develop a HIIT Exercise Program?

If you want to create a HIIT program for yourself, you have to consider the intensity, frequency, and duration of the work intervals and the length of the recovery intervals. You must make sure that the intensity during the HIIT work interval is above 80% of your estimated maximal heart rate. If you want a more specific indicator, think about it like you must have a workout interval that makes it feel like you are exercising “hard” to “very hard.”

The recovery interval must have an intensity of 40-50% of your estimated maximal heart rate. This is going to be a physical activity in which you are going to feel very comfortable, in order to help you recover and prepare for the next workout interval.

Take care of the relationship between the workout and recovery. Studies have shown that a specific ratio of exercise is going to recover and improve the different energy systems of your body. Take this example: a ratio of 1:1 is going to be a 3-minute hard work (or high intensity) round followed by a 3-minute recovery (or low intensity) round. The 1:1 interval workouts can range about 3, 4 or 5 minutes and are followed by the same time in recovery.

“Spring interval training method” is another type of popular HIIT training program. With this type of protocol, you do about 30 seconds of ‘sprint or near full-out effort,’ which will be followed by 4 to 4.5 minutes of recovery. You can repeat this combination of exercise for 3 to 5 times. This method has shorter bouts (30 seconds with sprint interval training).


What Safety Concerns You Must Consider with HIIT Training

Girl drinking water post HIIT workout

Individuals who have been living rather sedentary lifestyles or periods of physical inactivity are going to have an increased coronary disease risk when they decide to do high-intensity exercise. Cigarette smoking, hypertension, diabetes (or pre-diabetes), family history, abnormal cholesterol levels and obesity can increase the risk. You should talk to a physician first, to make sure that you are medically cleared from these conditions before starting HIIT or any type of exercise training.

Before you consider beginning HIIT training, you are encouraged to establish a foundation level of fitness. The foundation is referred to as a “base fitness level.” Consistent aerobic training (3 to 5 times a week for 20 to 60 min per session at a somewhat hard intensity) can become your base fitness level. Do this for several weeks, and you will produce muscular adaptations, which improve oxygen transport to the muscles. Remember that you must have an established appropriate exercise form and muscle strength before you engage in regular HIIT to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury.

Age, gender and fitness level are important matters to participate in HIIT training but another key to safely do these type of exercises is to modify the intensity of the work interval to a preferred challenging level. Safety should always be the most important priority, and people must focus more on finding their own optimal training intensities as opposed to keeping up with other individuals.


How Many Times a Week You Should do a HIIT Workout?

HIIT workouts are known to be more exhaustive than traditional exercises, meaning that a longer recovery period is going to be needed. You can start with one HIIT training workout a week while doing other steady state workouts. When you feel like you are ready for more challenge, add a second HIIT workout a week but make sure that you spread the HIIT workouts throughout the week.

Woman doing crunches

Make Your HIIT Exercise Schedule

A well-rounded physical activity program should have aerobic exercise and strength training exercise, but you don’t have to do them in the same session; this blend is going to maintain and improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness along with overall health and function. Doing regular physical activity is going to provide more health benefits than sporadic, high-intensity workouts, so make sure you take only the exercises you are going to enjoy and workouts that you can include in your schedule.

We recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (working hard enough to break a sweat, but still able to carry on a conversation) for five days a week, or some more vigorous activity three days a week. You can combine moderate and vigorous-intensity activities to meet this recommendation. Here are some examples of typical aerobic exercises:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Stair climbing
  • Rowing
  • Swimming

You should also consider doing some strength training for at least two days each week, with 8-12 repetitions of 8-10 different exercises that are going to target all major muscle groups. You can accomplish this type of training by using body weight, resistance bands, medicine balls, free weights or weight machines.


Woman doing side lunge stretch post HIIT workout

Staying Active Pays Off!

If you are physically active, you tend to live longer, healthier lives. Researchers are showing that moderate physical activity like 30 minutes a day of brisk walking is significantly contributing to longevity. Even if you have risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure or even a smoking habit, you can gain big benefits from incorporating regular physical activities into your daily life.

Dieters recommend that you exercise so that you help yourself to stay on a diet and lose weight. You are also going to help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, control blood sugar and build stronger, denser bones.


Woman doing lunges

Before You do HIIT Exercises:

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, you must take some measures before you start a HIIT program. First, make sure that medical evaluation and clearances are showing that you are able to engage this type of activity. You should know by know that not all exercise programs are suitable for everyone, and some exercises can result in injury. Take everything moderately and make a schedule for yourself. The activities must be carried out at a pace that is comfortable for the user.

An individual that wants to do high-intensity workouts and they start to feel pain or discomfort must discontinue participation in any exercise activity. If such event happens to you or to a close one, make sure that a proper medical consultation is immediately obtained.

Remember to take a fitness test or substantially increase your level of activity before you begin an exercise program. This way, you help your body getting ready for this type of activity. If your doctor said that you have a heart condition or you feel pain in your chest during physical activity, make sure to clear those problems first. If you lose your balance from dizziness or you suffer from vertigo and lose consciousness, treat those issues before even considering HIIT training

Woman doing bent over rows with a bar


Athletic training programs have a special spot for interval workouts. For many years, a variety of sport and recreational activities required short bursts of movement at high intensities; this means that HIIT exercise is the perfect choice for everyone that practices a sport.

Interval training is becoming an increasingly recognized and well-liked method of training. You will optimize the development of cardiorespiratory fitness and numerous other health benefits if you are going to incorporate the interval training into your life.


Leave a Comment